US military test flight: Zephyr solar glider crashed

Airbus‘ high-flying drone has crashed in the desert just hours before setting a record for the longest flight ever recorded by an aircraft.

The Zephyr solar-powered drone has crashed over the Arizona desert after a long-distance flight of 64 days. On tracking websites, the glider’s route suddenly became invisible on Friday 19 August and did not reappear as it usually does. According to the US magazine Simple Flying, the data shows a vertical rate of descent increasing rapidly and racing to the ground at speeds of up to 83 kilometres per hour.

An Airbus Defense representative reportedly confirmed the loss to Simple Flying, but did not speak of a crash. According to the statement, there were „circumstances that ended its current flight“. No persons were harmed. „US military test flight: Zephyr solar glider crashed“ weiterlesen

Airbus‘ „Zephyr“: Stratospheric drone beats own record

Airbus‘ unmanned glider has been flying for 42 days without landing; no aircraft has been in the air without refueling for such a long time. As a flying Internet node, the drone could replace 250 cell towers. But there is interest mainly from the military.

The „Zephyr“ solar glider breaks more records during a test flight. Launched on June 15, the drone has now been in the air for 42 days, far surpassing the mark of 26 days set in 2018. As then, the test is taking place over a U.S. Army compound in Yuma, the Arizona city considered the sunniest in the world. In theory, the unmanned aircraft can fly continuously for months without maintenance.

With the tests, Airbus and the military want to test the durability of the drone, its electric motors  and its satellite communications. The flights involve intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance units from the military and various combat commands. „Airbus‘ „Zephyr“: Stratospheric drone beats own record“ weiterlesen

Frontex closes surveillance gaps in the air and in space

High-flying drones are to reconnoitre the EU’s external borders from the stratosphere, a static zeppelin is already observing close to the ground. With interception systems in space, the EU border agency wants to locate and possibly tap satellite telephones in the Mediterranean. So far, the technology has only been installed in aircraft.

The European Union‘s border agency Frontex is expanding its „surveillance capability“ with high-flying platforms. In a call for tenders, systems are being sought for use in the stratosphere. At an altitude of 20 kilometres, they are to close the gap between the aircraft, drones and satellites already in use.

The systems sought include so-called high-altitude platforms (HAPS) or lighter-than-air (LTA) solutions, such as those currently being developed to series maturity by the European armament company Airbus with the glider „Zephyr“ or its French competitor Thales with the zeppelin-like „Stratobus“, which can last for months or even years. Suppliers of microsatellites, which can be launched into space extremely cheaply these days, can also apply.

The launch of HAPS has been driven by the EU Space Agency since 2017, and its market share at the time was estimated to be over €7 billion by 2024. Frontex could therefore be one of the first users of the new technology, as with the „Space Data Highway“. „Frontex closes surveillance gaps in the air and in space“ weiterlesen